Ok so not everyone loves museums, they find them dusty old places that are pretentious and no fun. Unfortunately, many people enter into these sacred halls less than enthusiastic and then they continue to perpetuate those negative thoughts. However, I have to admit that some people will never be “museum people” (my sister being one of them), but that does not mean you should ignore museums completely while traveling.
Museums are literally the temples of knowledge of our past achievements and, as human beings in the 21st century, I think it is imperative we learn about these awesomely talented ancestors. That being said, there are ways to make museums more fun for everyone. Although there are a million of types of museums, but I am going to focus on art museums since, you know, art history was my degree and all! Hopefully, this post changes the way you look at art museums for ever.
Don’t Over Do It
Some museums are just too big, even for the most ambitious art-loving person. I too get museum fatigue: that feeling of just not caring how great or beautiful the next painting is because your hangry/tired/sore/bored. That being said, if you are entering a mega-museum choose a section/floor/theme to focus on and stick to that until you decide if you want to continue or not. Personally, it’s better to see less of the museum and enjoy it than “see it all” and not remember or care about a thing.
When Will and I go to museums we try to make sure we highlight exhibits we’d both like to see (I for one love medieval art), that way we each have something to look forward to. Additionally, I always make sure I google the museum in question to find what their “can’t miss” art pieces are and make sure to swing by.
Read more: Germany: AP Art History Hunting
Wear Comfortable Clothes
Will and I both have minor back issues so comfortable shoes (that are totally not geriatric!) are a must. Museums tend to aggravate my back even more because you stop and go and shift your weight side to side a lot. I try to make sure I pay attention to my body’s signs before pushing myself too far and ruining our vacation. More museums are putting in benches and lounge chairs, make use of them if you want to spend some extra time gazing at the artwork.
Read more: Thanksgiving Trip: Art History Hunting
Don’t Take too many Photos
As an art lover and blogger, I do take a fair amount of photos but don’t forget to LOOK while you are there. In all honestly, a Google search will come up with a close-up shot much better than anything you can take, so instead focus your time looking at the paintings: discussing them and engaging with the art. That is the beauty of museums – you are face to face with history! Don’t take that for granted!
Read more: The Mega Met
Do a Tour
If you don’t know anything about history or art, my best advice is to do a tour or get an audio guide. It’s really the best way to get a crash course on the significance of things in the museum and will really help you to get more out of it. Sometimes museums will have tours based on certain themes (read History in High Heels review of the Baddass Bitches of the Met tour).
Read more: Top 8 Berlin Museums
Play a Game
Will and I can make anything into a competition and museums are no exception! One game in particular I LOOOOOVEEE to play is “Name that Saint” (I actually teach this to my Humanities students too).
Here’s how you play: you and your partner go up to a painting and try to name as many of the saints as possible and explain how you know who they are based on their symbols, without looking at the information plaque. If there is someone you missed, read up on that saint to add to your arsenal for next time. Honestly, I win this game 99% of the time but Will still likes playing and boy is he getting better!
If you are not as knowledgeable in Christian mythology as we are you can totally make an “I Spy” game and make score sheets ahead of time. Anything to make looking at thousands of religious paintings more entertaining!
Read more: Falling in Love with Still-life Painting
We’ll those are really all the best tips I have for now. Do you have any tips to add? What are some of your favorite museums?